For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel) has a really bad rep and with good reason: Five years ago convicted killer Riddick escaped the galaxy's law enforcement during a botched interplanetary prison transfer and has been on the lam ever since. As The Chronicles of Riddick picks up our antagonist finds his relative freedom has been compromised when mercenaries out for the $1 million bounty on his head discover his location and hunt him down. Riddick escapes their clutches steals their ship and sets off for Planet Helion to find Imam (Keith David) the Muslim cleric he rescued in Pitch Black and the only person who could have squealed his location to authorities. But while Riddick's hunch about Imam are correct the cleric has a reason for luring the mammoth murderer out of hiding: Helion is falling to unholy armies of Necromongers--warriors who conquer by force in the vein of Star Trek's Borg. Of course Riddick doesn't give a damn about the Helions or their plight--until he gets wind that the Necromogers want to kill him because of an old prophecy that foresees their end at Riddick's hands. Like it or not Riddick is left with no other choice but to battle the Necromongers.
The character of Riddick is unquestionably what made Pitch Black one of the most sequel-worthy sci-fi films in years. And Riddick would not have been one of sci-fi's most intoxicating characters if it weren't for Diesel. Like his Dominic Toretto in the 2001 actioner The Fast and the Furious Riddick is a villain of few words but when he speaks his carefully chosen words have impact--even if the dialogue is at times overly theatrical. Riddick is the perfect antihero; a cold-blooded and indifferent being who somehow evokes more compassion than the film's so-called good guys. Joining Riddick are some recurring characters including David as Imam but Riddick benefits the most from the addition of some new characters particularly Colm Feore as Lord Marshal the Necromonger leader whose goal is to rid the universe of all human life. Feore channeling nuggets of Julius Caesar into his role makes for one of Riddick's most thrilling foes. Another prominent addition to the cast is Judi Dench who has a surprisingly small role as Aereon an Elemental captured by the Necromongers and used for her special powers including ESP.
Writer/director David Twohy took his horror pic Pitch Black which gained a cult following since it was released four years ago and managed to successfully turn it into an sci-fi actioner of epic proportions. Everything is grander here which is almost a given considering Twohy shot Pitch Black on a dime in Australia using colored filters. In Riddick the director distinguishes the film's different environments--the Necros' mothership Crematoria's cavernous prison and Helion--using warm to cool tones that are dazzling yet more subtle than its predecessor. The CGI effects get a little gamey at times but production designer Holger Gross' gargantuan sets are impressive and help craft Twohy's otherworldly vision into a plausible one. And although Twohy jumps genres from Pitch Black to its sequel his storyline evolves logically from the original premise. But while moviegoers unfamiliar with Pitch Black will be able to follow the story easily enough they may have a difficult time grasping what makes Riddick such a big deal; the film explains the legend but never fully captures its quintessence. This could hurt Riddick's chances to broaden its Pitch Black fan base.
Melissa Rivers, daughter of comedian and author Joan Rivers, reveals in the April 6 issue of TV Guide that she and husband John Endicott have separated. Rivers and Endicott tied the knot on Dec. 12, 1998 at New York's Plaza Hotel in a winter wonderland ceremony that included 100 white-painted trees and more than 20,000 flowers. Rivers told the magazine: "I had a pretty wedding. I made the pretty house. I had the pretty baby, I had the handsome husband. I had the career, he had the career, with me at the gate, waving.
"And the reality is: I'm flawed. He's flawed. I'm still in the honeymoon stages of trying to stay above the fray, and I'm going to be civil, but there have been days when I've just wanted to freak."
Black, Hispanic and Asian performers including Salma Hayek, Rosie Perez and rapper Eve took part in V-Day Harlem at the Apollo Theatre in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, the Associated Press reports. The event, a staged version of The Vagina Monologues, was a benefit to raise awareness about violence against women. Proceeds from the performance will go to several black, Hispanic and Asian women's anti-violence organizations.
The Tea Council is launching a new ad campaign aimed at revamping its image and has signed model Kate Moss to become Britain's new spokeswoman for tea, PageSix.com reports. The Tea Council is hoping Moss, who once admitted to drinking between 10-15 cups a day, will convince its target audience of women ages 25 to 34 that tea isn't just for grandma anymore.
Tara Reid, who plays a college newspaper journalist in National Lampoon's Van Wilder, told Newsday that she was attracted to the role to see "what it was like on the other side." In the film, Reid's character, Gwen, has to rewrite a piece that she feels is not very fair--which she thinks journalists don't do enough. "Some of the things people write about me are so not right, or so off, and I think, 'God, wouldn't it be nice if someone, one day, went back and opened their eyes?'"
Susan Sarandon, Leelee Sobieski and Robin Tunney will star in director George Hickenlooper's indie film A Whale in Montana. According toThe Hollywood Reporter, the film--a cross between Ghost and In the Bedroom--follows a widowed doctor (played by Sarandon) working in a small town and raising her 7-year-old daughter. The film also stars Donald Sutherland, David Strathairn and Rory Cochrane and is budgeted at less than $10 million.
Christina Ricci is in talks to star in Borgia, a historical drama set in the 15th century. She will join Ewan McGregor, who signed on last week. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ricci will segue into the project after she completes shooting Woody Allen's untitled project.
Jimmy Fallon of Saturday Night Live is the latest star to join the untitled Allen project, which begins shooting this spring. Like most Allen films, the plot is being kept under wraps. Fallon will join Ricci, Jason Biggs, Glenn Close and Danny DeVito.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus told the Sunday edition of The Washington Post that unlike her two former Seinfeld co-stars, the show has been a blessing for her. NBC is hoping her new comedy, Watching Ellie, will not go the way of Jason Alexander and Michael Richards.
In an effort to distinguish its flagship series Raw on TNN and Smackdown on UPN, the World Wrestling Federation has designated specific wrestlers exclusively to each show, Variety reports. Raw, which airs Monday nights, will feature the Undertaker, Kane, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Lita and the Hardy Boyz, while Thursday night's Smackdown will include the Rock, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Edge and Stacy Kiebler. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Jazz will float between the two shows for the time being.
Musicians Charlie Daniels and Aaron Neville spent Easter Sunday counseling inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where almost 90 percent of the prison's inmates are serving life sentences. The effort was part of Operation Starting Line, a coalition of more than 20 faith-based organizations that, through religion, try to help inmates turn their lives around , the AP reports.
Jazz history is getting some long-overdue recognition in New Orleans, La. The Preservation Resource Center and the New Orleans Jazz Commission launched an ambitious project to designate long-ignored landmarks in the city's music history by placing their first of 100 "jazz house" historic plaques on a home in New Orleans, La. The plaque was placed on the home where Armand J. Piron--the leader of a popular society band, teacher and music publisher--once lived, the AP reports.